By Tim Graham
INDIANAPOLIS -- The words came out of my mouth almost involuntarily.
Marquise Goodwin was on his third stride, running a kickoff deep out of the end zone. From my high perch in the Lucas Oil Stadium press box, I could see the bodies already parting into a high-speed lane down the numbers.
"Whoa," I said before Goodwin had reached the 5-yard line. In my peripheral vision, a reporter sitting next to me looked up and about 12 seconds later stared at me as though I were psychic.
Really, it was simply eyeball physics. Goodwin's acceleration plus that hole he was about dash through looked like a touchdown 100 yards before he scored it.
While much of the discussion today will focus on rookie quarterback EJ Manuel's performance, Goodwin made a spectacular NFL debut Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.
"He's one of the fastest guys I've ever been with on the field," Bills coach Doug Marrone said, "and it's documented, that speed."
Goodwin's first kickoff return went 53 yards and would have been a touchdown if not for a desperation, ankle-clipping tackle by Kerwynn Williams. Goodwin's second return was a touchback. His third went 107 yards for a touchdown.
The Olympic long jumper was a long runner Sunday.
"Give all the credit for the guys that were blocking for me because they made my job a lot easier," Goodwin said. "I got the easiest job on the field to just catch it and run fast and do what I do best."
Goodwin fielded his touchdown return 7 yards deep in the end zone. He didn't consider kneeling. The up back, Frank Summers, didn't give Goodwin the stop sign.
"I'm bringing it out every time," Goodwin said. "That's in my mind until the up-returner keeps me in. In my mind, I was 'Yeah, I'm going to take this one.' "
I wish networks would show kickoff returns from an end-zone camera. You can see the play develop. The holes open and close. An end-zone angle can turn a seemingly boring play into a fascinating experience.
Instead, we get a horizontal pan of the 50-yard-line camera and a mishmash of bodies that appear to be running around chaotically.
Goodwin's return was gorgeous. Special-teams coordinator Danny Crossman called a middle-right return, taking the ball up the numbers. The Bills executed it perfectly.
Goodwin was at full speed at the 14-yard line before he needed to make his first Colts defender, linebacker Shawn Loiseau, miss. Louiseau only could wave a paw at him.
Goodwin followed Sanders for two or three more steps. Colts receiver Jabin Sambrano had a chance at the 19-yard line, but spun around when Sanders went after him.
"He took the end out," Goodwin said, "and I just cut off his butt and cut up the field and cut across the field and just ran for my life."
Colts linebacker Kavell Conner might have been the only player to touch Goodwin, vainly getting a hand on him (I think) at the 28-yard line. Goodwin sprinted across the field and up the left sideline.
He outraced cornerback Cassius Vaughn, but slowed down to raise his left index finger as he crossed the goal line.
Goodwin was passing the Colts' cheerleaders at the time. I asked him what his gesture meant. He laughed sheepishly.
"My coach calls is a 'pro glide,' " Goodwin said. "So I pro glid? I don't know what's the correct term there. All the way through the end zone."
Goodwin made quite a first impression.
"Man, a dream come true," Goodwin said. "God really blessed me. A lot of people said I wouldn't be up here today, let alone being interviewed for running a kick return back in my first preseason NFL game. It's just wonderful what He can do for you.
"To all the people who said I wouldn't, I appreciate it because without them saying I couldn't, I feel like I wouldn't have the same drive to prove people wrong."